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Rand Paul meets with Gorbachev

Rand Paul meets with Gorbachev
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Tax March - CDC in limbo on J&J vax verdict; Rep. Brady retiring Anti-Asian hate crimes bill overcomes first Senate hurdle Fauci on Tucker Carlson vaccine comments: 'Typical crazy conspiracy theory' MORE (R-Ky.) met on Tuesday with former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev as part of his weeklong trip to Russia.

Paul praised Gorbachev after the meeting, saying he understood the "critical necessity of engagement" between the United States and Russia.

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“President Gorbachev was instrumental in bringing down the Iron Curtain and restoring ties with the West. ... Our conversation further encouraged me that open dialogue between our two nations does not have to be a thing of the past," Paul said in a statement.

He added that while he discussed "various items" with Gorbachev, who was the final leader of the Soviet Union, the "importance of nuclear disarmament was greatly discussed."

Paul also met with Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Foreign Relations, and invited Russian lawmakers to Washington, D.C.

His trip to Moscow comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are becoming increasingly concerned that the Kremlin will try to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGreitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP The Hill's Morning Report - Biden tasks Harris on border; news conference today Missouri Senate candidate Eric Greitens tangles with Hugh Hewitt in testy interview MORE (Mo.), one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, said late last month that Russian intelligence agents had targeted her staff with an attempted breach ahead of the November midterms.

Senators are mulling legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia, though some Republicans are skeptical they would be enough to prevent election meddling.

Paul, who voted against sanctions legislation last year, has emerged as one of President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE's chief allies in the Senate on Russia.

He blocked a resolution from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Trump was right about 'trying to end endless wars' Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Bernie Sanders says he disagrees with Tlaib's call for 'no more police' MORE (I-Vt.) that would have supported the intelligence community's findings that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential election and required Trump to sit down with special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump MORE.

"We should stand firm and say, 'Stay the hell out of our elections,' but we should not stick our head in the ground and say we're not going to talk to them," Paul said from the Senate floor.